Evening Poetry, September 10

Living Together

by David Whyte

We are like children in the master’s violin shop
not yet allowed to touch the tiny planes or the rare wood
but given brooms to sweep the farthest corners
of the room, to gather shavings, mop spilled resins
and watch with apprehension the tender curves
emerging from apprenticed hands.  The master
rarely shows himself but whenever he does he demonstrates
a concentrated ease so different from the willful accumulation
of experience we have come to expect,
a stripping away, a direct appreciation of all the elements
we are bound, one day, to find beneath our hands.
He stands in our minds so clearly now, his confident back
caught in the light from pale clerestory windows
and we note the way the slight tremor of his palms
disappears the moment they encounter wood.

In this light we hunger for maturity, see it not as stasis
but a form of love.  We want the stillness and confidence
of age, the space between self and all the objects of the world
honoured and defined, the possibility that everything
left alone can ripen of its own accord,
all passionate transformations arranged only
through innocent meetings, one to another,
the way we see resin allowed to seep into the wood
in the wood’s own secret time.  We intuit our natures
becoming resonant with one another according
to the grain of the way we are made.  Nothing forced
or wanted until it ripens in our own expectant hands.
But for now, in the busy room, we stand in the child’s
first shy witness of one another, and see ourselves again,
gladly and always, falling in love with our future.

You can find this poem in The Sea in You.

Evening Poetry, August 10

Everything Is Waiting For You

(After Derek Mahon)

by David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

You can find this poem in the collection Everything is Waiting for You.

Evening Poetry, June 24

The TrueLove

by David Whyte

There is a faith in loving fiercely

the one who is rightfully yours

especially if you have

waited years and especially

if part of you never believed

you could deserve this

loved and beckoning hand

held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now

and the testaments of loneliness

and what we feel we are

worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides

I remember an old man

who walked every morning

on the grey stones

to the shore of baying seals

who would press his hat

to his chest in the blustering

salt wind and say his prayer

to the turbulent Jesus

hidden in the water,

and I think of the story

of the storm and everyone

waking and seeing

the distant

yet familiar figure

far across the water

calling to them

and how we are all

preparing for that

abrupt waking,

and that calling,

and taht moment

we have to say yes,

except it will

not come so grandly

so Biblically

but more subtly

and intimately in the face

of the one you know

you have to love.

So that when

we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and everything confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all this struggle

and all these years

you don’t want to any more

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness

however fluid and however

dangerous to take the

one hand you know

belongs to yours.

You can find this poem in the collection The Sea in You.

Evening Poetry, June 16

Shoreline

by David Whyte

Holding hands, we walk

to the very edge of the light,

shyly aware of the way

time radiates from

where we stand.

Our footprints behind us,

are a promise in the sand,

inscribing a joining,

a walking together,

our witness to the ocean,

and as they wait

to disappear

under the flowing tide,

the far, unknown,

and unspeakable

origin from which we came.

Then, all around us,

the felt sense of a courage

needed, a newness in the air,

a touch of the familiar

and ancient in all the tidal vows

the wind can speak,

the strands of your hair

across my face, and then,

suddenly, the sun in your eyes

and the way they closed in surprise

at the first kiss of your salt mouth.

You can find this poem in the collection The Sea in You.

Evening Poetry, June 12

The Sea in You

by David White

When I wake under the moon,

I do not know who I have become unless

I move closer to you, obeying the give and take

Of the earth as it breathes the slender length

Of your body, so that in breathing with the tide that breathes 

In you, and moving with you as you come and go,

And following you, half in light and half in dark,

I feel the first firm edge of my floating palm touch 

And then trace the pale light of your shoulder

To the faint, moonlit shadow of your smooth cheek

And drawing my finger through the pearl water of your skin,

I sense the breath on your lips touch and then warm

The finest, furthest, most unknown edge of my sense of self,

So that I come to you under the moon as if I had

Swum under the deepest arch of the ocean,

To find you living where no one could possibly live,

And to feel you breathing, where no one could

Possibly breathe, and I touch your skin as I would

Touch a pale whispering spirit of the tides that my arms

Try to hold with the wrong kind of strength and my lips

Try to speak with the wrong kind of love and I follow

You through the ocean night listening for your breath

In my helpless calling to love you as I should, and I lie

Next to you in your sleep as I would next to the sea,

Overwhelmed by the rest that arrives in me and by the weight

That is taken from me and what, by morning,

Is left on the shore of my waking joy.

You can find this poem in the collection The Sea in You.

Evening Poetry, May 31

River Fall

by David Whyte

We follow

the river’s fall

down through

the mountains

all day, but now

our bodies

have stopped

to rest,

the water still flows on

without us.

You can find this poem in the collection The Bell and The Blackbird by David Whyte.

Evening Poetry, May 18

Stone

by David Whyte

The face in the stone is a mirror looking into you.

You have gazed at the moving waters

you have seen the slow light, in the sky

above Lough Inagh, beneath you, streams have flowed,

and rivers of earth have moved beneath your feet,

but you have never looked into the immovability

of stone like this, the way it holds you, gives you

not a way forward but a doorway in, staunches

your need to leave, becomes faithful by going nowhere

something that wants you to stay here and look back,

be weathered by what comes to you, like the way you too

have travelled from so far away to be here, once reluctant

and now as solid and as here and as willing

to be touched as everything you have found.

You can find this poem in the collection The Bell and The Blackbird by David Whyte.